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Dean Owen

Dean Owen

To Watches04/04/2016

Zenith has had a close affinity with aviation from the very early days of those "Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines", providing not only watches and cockpit watches for pilots, but also aviation instruments such as altimeters for WW1 aircraft.
I was fortunate to obtain this Zenith Special from a gentleman in Germany who had it passed down from an uncle.
I believe the Zenith Special entered production in 1909, the year that famed aviation pioneer Louis Bleriot made the first Channel crossing, from Calais to North Meadow near the White Cliffs of Dover with a Zenith Special on his wrist. These watches were later reported to have been used by the Luftwaffe in the early 1930's.
I will not be able to date this particular piece until it goes through a full restoration, but I suspect it dates to the mid 1920's.
At 41mm, this watch certainly would have had wrist presence back in the day. With an oversized crown, a rotating bezel to turn the marker underneath the beveled glass, and a jet black fired porcelain dial with luminous markings, this watch is certainly one of the first true pilot watches. At its heart lies a 15 ligne gilt movement featuring a screwed, split, bimetallic balance with overcool hairspring, chaton-set jewels and a reverse snail-cam regulator.

Dean Owen